Elimination — yup. We’re going to talk about THAT. Every human organism relies on the ability to successfully eliminate waste from its system or die. Getting waste out quickly is a benefit to any biological system. In humans, our bodies are designed to evacuate in a squatting position, and long before the modern toilet was invented, our ancestors squatted. Many cultures still use toilets that require squatting, which would be viewed as odd here in the United States.
The Modern Toilet
Some people theorize that the modern toilet is harming our digestive tract since we are not able to eliminate waste efficiently. Sitting changes our posture and relaxes the muscles that allow for an easier elimination. According to Squatty Potty, makers of a popular bathroom stool that bears their name:
“In the squatting position, gravity does most of the work. The weight of the torso presses against the thighs and naturally compresses the colon. Gentle pressure from the diaphragm supplements the force of gravity.” They also emphasize that squatting relaxes the puborectalis muscle, which causes the bowel to empty completely.
Proponents of squatting also emphasize how that position lifts the colon and unlocks the kink at the entrance to the rectum. Think of unbending a kinked garden hose. We need this kink to prevent incontinence, but unkinking it to eliminate makes the whole process easier.
In addition, the colon has an ileocecal valve (letting waste come in from the small intestine) and the puborectalis muscle, which acts as an outlet valve. When we squat, that action causes the ileocecal valve to close, shutting off the small intestine, and opens the outlet valve, helping waste leave the body. Sitting to excavate renders both those valves useless and makes elimination more time consuming and often more difficult, resulting is the need to bear down.
As with many health topics, disagreement exists on the benefits of squatting to eliminate. What most studies show is that the only benefit that everyone can agree on is that squatting helps to relieve pressure and the need to bear down. This may help in situations of constipation, and may help to reduce the chance of getting hemorrhoids. The other area of agreement is that squatting reduces the time it takes to eliminate waste. Squatty Potty makes promises that by using their device you will more effectively clear your bowel, which leads to a healthier bowel track, possibly reducing disease. This health benefit is not clearly proved by studies due to the small nature of the study.
Doctors have advised patients who are constipated to stack up phone books at the base of the toilet, which helps create an easier angle for elimination. Certainly, that is a free option, should you not want to invest in a special bathroom stool. But these stools are fairly inexpensive, about $25 to 30 for the plastic version. Trying out this health tool is a low dollar investment, with no negative side effects. You might say that you have everything to gain and lots to lose.